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Jonny Shitbag & The Smokes
You Could Not Have Given The Slightest Of Fucks Cal Cashin , March 12th, 2018 13:41

A 25-minute debut of perfect snot-nosed rebellion and despair.

Glaswegian gadabouts Jonny Shitbag & The Smokes come with a pleasing, apocryphal origin story. Jonny Shitbag himself disappeared not long after these songs were written, or so they say, and The Smokes - Curls, Traff and TJ - slogged on with recording the album as a tribute to their “lost indie prince”.

The band released a brilliant single on Bandcamp late last year, and now we have this album, out via French cassette-only label Hidden Bay Records. The thing about You Could Not Have Given the Slightest of Fucks is that it’s almost impossible to place it in a particular time or place. The record feels like a cracked relic with wavering synth lines, C86 bass rumbles and deep-set vocals leaking in through the pores; it also sounds like it was made by a group of people born very close to the turn of the millennium. They play with sunshiney indie rock, noise pop and garage punk, and they switch with ease, with pleasure, between serenade and spite.

For example, halfway through the album comes the duo of ‘Kevin’ and ‘Big and Small’. ‘Kevin’ is one of the record’s most meditative tracks, woozy beach tones injected with Jonny’s Glasgow snarl as he forlornly whines about an old flame’s new boyfriend. Then ‘Big And Small’ begins tentatively but morphs into a psychotic rock number that recalls the halloween howls of The Cramps and Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster while still existing in the hypnagogic realm created by Jonny Shitbag & The Smokes. ‘Mints’ recalls early Pixies and Dinosaur Jr, sounding like a lost classic from Boston, not Glasgow, while playful college-rock number ‘Bedtime’ is an ode to youthful hedonism that arrives here via Minutemen and Parquet Courts.

Two of the most powerful emotions in this kind of messy-haired, snotty-nosed indie rock are rebellion and teenage despair. You Could Not Have Given The Slightest Of Fucks expresses them both perfectly. Let’s hope Jonny Shitbag returns.